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  • Aspire » Leadership » When’s the last time you sharpened the saw?

    When’s the last time you sharpened the saw?

    saw   photo by tao_zhyn

    Habit number seven from Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly effective people is “Sharpen the Saw”.  He uses a story of a woodcutter who is struggling after several days of sawing wood – he’s lost effectiveness because his saw is no longer sharp.  From Covey’s perspective, there are different aspects to this – physical, mental, spiritual and social.  If you want to remain at peak effectiveness, you need to sharpen up in all of those areas.

    I’m fortunate to be part of a great group called the Professional Business Coaches Alliance (www.pbca.biz ).  It’s a group of business coaches from all over North America who all have their own companies but share common values and approaches to helping business owners succeed.

    Our annual meeting was this past weekend in New Orleans and I reflected on the flight home how this was a really well timed chance for me to ‘Sharpen the Saw’ across a lot of different areas.  We spent a lot of time learning and discussing new ideas, best practices and how to be more successful in our businesses (and how to make our clients more successful).  We also spent time connecting and reconnecting with colleagues who share a lot of common ground (and I had some great meals in New Orleans!).

    When was the last time you sharpened your saw in a meaningful way?

    Most business owners are continually caught up in a firestorm – they’re really trying to be a Hero for their business (and it’s killing them).  There’s always a lot of urgent things to do, but if you don’t make time to step back, you will drive yourself into the ground.

    Ideas for Sharpening the Saw

    1. Clear out 1/2 day to think every month

    As the owner of your business, you are the ONLY person who can really see the big picture and do anything about it…however if you never make the time and let yourself dream, then you’re going to be stuck on a downward spiral.  Find a quiet place and challenge yourself to come up with ways to improve – work with someone else to collaborate and push if that would be helpful.  (maybe a coach…?)    ;-)

    2.  Sign up for a quarterly learning event

    It’s a safe bet that there is always new stuff for you to learn.  Find a topic that sounds interesting or would be really helpful and commit to attending.  Make the investment.

    3.  Carve out gym time or walking time 3 days a week

    You could kill a couple of birds with one stone on this one.  What if you set aside 45 minutes to an hour 3 days a week for a walk, either by yourself or with someone you enjoy talking to?  You could use the time to think or to increase your connections with someone else and you’ll get some needed exercise!

    4.  Have lunch with a friend once a month

    A lot of business owners don’t have time for lunch – they eat at their desk and do work or they use that time to meet with clients or networking partners.  In terms of productivity, that’s great, but you should be able to carve out at least one day a month for someone that you just enjoy being around. 

    5.  Spend time and develop your core values…in writing

    I’ve been working with a client on this recently and it’s really amazing how energized the entire team got by really diving into what made the business tick.  The clearer you are on what your core values really are, the more it will appeal to the right customers, employees and partners (and it will energize you).

    What other things could you do (or are you doing) to Sharpen the Saw?  I’m sure there are a lot of other things that I’m not covering – share your thoughts below, I’d love to hear what other people are doing.

    Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach

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